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Council calls off planned 'road diet'

Plan for a bike-friendly stretch is tabled after gripes from neighborhood.

July 10, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • A cyclist rides south on the 700 block of Sonora Avenue in Glendale. The Glendale City Council shot down a proposal that would create two bike paths down a one-mile stretch of North Glendale.
A cyclist rides south on the 700 block of Sonora Avenue… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Glendale's first road diet has hit the brakes for now as the City Council on Tuesday backed off of slimming down a one-mile stretch of North Glendale road that was set to gain two designated bike paths later this month.

The city has tabled a so-called road diet that would cut one lane in each direction, add a center turn lane and two bike lanes to Honolulu Avenue between Ramsdell and Sunset avenues due to heavy neighborhood opposition.

Although bicycle advocates packed recent City Hall meetings in support of the road diet, slews of emails from opponents swayed council members to stop the project.

Instead, city officials will begin to review several other street stretches where residents and business owners may be more amenable to calming traffic and increasing bike safety.

“We need to keep pushing forward,” Mayor Frank Quintero said.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she didn't want to give up on Honolulu Avenue, but she also didn't want to “ram [a road diet] down the throat of a neighborhood.”

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The project was set to be the city's first road diet test case, and while most of the council members were behind the project when it was approved in January, that strong endorsement has weakened in recent weeks. Even during the council meeting, support waned as city officials said Glendale didn't have the money to change the street back to pre-road-diet conditions.

Glendale has been marketing the $125,000 project — to be paid for with federal grant money earmarked for bicycle improvements — as a six- to nine-month test. But on Tuesday, traffic and transportation administrator Jano Baghdanian said it would cost about $120,000 to reverse the changes. The city would have to suck that money away from other repair projects, which several council members disliked.

Other streets that could be evaluated for road diets include: Verdugo Avenue between La Crescenta and Honolulu avenues; Honolulu Avenue between Boston and Pennsylvania avenues; and Orange Street between Doran Street and Broadway.

Several of the options were brought to the City Council in January, but they still selected the controversial Honolulu Avenue stretch. The council members said they want city officials to reach out to all potentially affected areas before they make their final decision about the first road diet.

Councilman Rafi Manoukian said the city can do lots of outreach, but there will still be people who oppose the road diet or say they were unaware of the change until it is too late. He added that he'd prefer to focus on downtown bike lane research rather than residential.

The city's Draft Bicycle Transportation plan, which the City Council approved in March, recommends road diets throughout the city.

The City Council is set to review the next step of the plan at the end of July. City officials may prioritize which streets they plan to review for another possible road diet for council direction by then, said Public Works Director Steve Zurn.

Councilman Dave Weaver was the only council member who voted against postponing the road diet, as he's opposed it from the beginning.

“Our streets were designed for automobiles, not bicycles,” he said.

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